NRL Preview: Burgess to start, Norman returns & Hutchison on Roosters bench

Tom Burgess in action for South Sydney Rabbitohs

South Sydney prop Tom Burgess has been given the all-clear to play against Manly on Saturday.

Parramatta Eels v Melbourne Storm (Thursday, 9:05am)

Marata Niukore

The second round of the 2021 season kicks off with a mouth-watering clash between Parramatta and Melbourne. Both sides have title aspirations this year and come into this one after contrasting opening round wins. The Eels did not make it easy for themselves as they fought back from a 16-0 deficit to beat Brisbane and you can certainly imagine more will be needed here as they take on a Storm side that came out firing to beat a tough Rabbitohs outfit.

Team news: Only one major change for Parramatta as Marata Niukore returns from suspension and Keegan Hipgrave moves to the extended bench.

No changes for Melbourne as Brenko Lee (hamstring), Harry Grant (knee) and Dale Finucane (calf) all remain out.

New Zealand Warriors v Newcastle Knights (Friday, 7am)

Daniel Saifiti

Another fixture that sees two teams with plenty of momentum after their own first round wins. The Warriors proved they were a team not to be counted out as they produced an impressive victory over an exciting Titans side while Newcastle were dominant themselves in their win over Cronulla. Both forward packs will be key here with the likes of Tohu Harris and Addin Fonua-Blake promising to be a great tandem this year while Daniel Saifiti was inspirational for the Knights last week.

Team news: No Euan Aitken for the Warriors who is out with a high ankle sprain, so Adam Pompey is the new man at centre.

No changes for Newcastle but Connor Watson is named at loose forward after coming off the interchange last week and Sauaso Sue moves to the bench.

Gold Coast Titans v Brisbane Broncos (Friday, 9:05am)

Phillip Sami

The Kevin Walters era at Brisbane got off to a shaky start last week but there were certainly some positives to take away. They came bursting out of the blocks with a much-improved Anthony Milford helping them to a 16-0 lead at half-time and overall looking nothing like the wooden spoon side of last year. However, a resurgent Eels side were too much for the Broncos as they succumbed to a 24-16 loss in the end. They now face Queensland rivals Gold Coast this week and the Titans will need to find some connection and cohesion quickly after losing to the Warriors last week.

Team news: Brian Kelly (hand) is out for the Titans, so Phillip Sami takes his place at centre.

Huge boosts for Brisbane see John Asiata (neck/shoulder) and Xavier Coates (neck) cleared of any serious injury and are selected to play. Thomas Flegler is named in the front-row with Matt Lodge (hamstring) set to miss up to three weeks.

Canterbury Bulldogs v Penrith Panthers (Saturday, 4am)

Nathan Cleary

After a tough loss to Newcastle in tricky weather conditions, the start to life for Canterbury under Trent Barrett does not get any easier as they now take on the reigning Minor Premiership winners. The Panthers shook off a disappointing Grand Final loss with a comprehensive 24-0 win over North Queensland in Round One. The Bulldogs will have it all to do against this exciting Penrith side but with some exciting new additions they are certainly capable of it.

Team news: Raymond Faitala-Mariner is back in the starting side with Corey Waddell moving to the interchange. Jeremy Marshall-King (foot) returns to take his place on the bench.

No changes for Penrith as they name the same 17 that shutout North Queensland.

Manly Sea Eagles v South Sydney Rabbitohs (Saturday, 6:30am)

Tom Burgess was stretchered off the field last week with a neck injury but has been cleared to play on Saturday

It certainly was not the start to the season that the Sea Eagles were wanting as they fell to a crushing 42-point defeat to Sydney last week and they come into the second week with another tough fixture. The Rabbitohs will be out for blood following their loss to Melbourne, with too many errors costing them in the end, so Wayne Bennett will no doubt be hoping for a big improvement alongside a full 80-minute performance. However, there will definitely be some comfort in the fact that Latrell Mitchell was incredibly impressive last week as he continues to accustom well to the full-back role.

Team news: Still no Tom Trbojevic for Manly who is a couple of weeks away from a return. Jack Gosiewski is on the bench, with Andrew Davey taking his place in second-row. Cade Cust is also the new man on the interchange with Tevita Funa dropping down to extended bench outside the main 17.

Two big changes for the Rabbitohs as Josh Mansour and Jacob Host are out of the main 17-man squad with Jaxson Paulo and Keaon Koloamatangi the new faces in the starting 13. Tom Burgess has been cleared of injury and is set to start.

North Queensland Cowboys v St George Illawarra Dragons (Saturday, 8:35am)

Corey Norman

The Cowboys head back to Townsville and will be looking to kickstart their season after failing to put up any points in a tough fixture against Penrith. They will have every opportunity here as they face a Dragons side who looked strong but just could not keep the pace with Cronulla in the end. Both teams also come into this year with relatively new coaching regimes with North Queensland’s Toddy Payten and St George Illawarra’s Anthony Griffin both looking to make a statement.

Team news: No changes for North Queensland who stick with the same 17-man squad.

Corey Norman returns from suspension for the Dragons at stand-off while Adam Clune moves to the extended bench.

Wests Tigers v Sydney Roosters (Sunday, 5:05am)

Adam Doueihi

The Tigers will have it all to do here as they face a Sydney side full of confidence after dismantling Manly in Round One. The Roosters were just too strong for the Sea Eagles with James Tedesco and Brett Morris both in full flight after recording hat-tricks in a 46-4 win. The Tigers started out strong against Canberra as they went into the second half with the score tied at 6-6 but their defence let them down as they fell to a 30-12 defeat.

Team news: Adam Doueihi is named at stand-off as Dane Laurie is retained at full-back for the Tigers. Moses Mbye moves to the bench.

Nat Butcher has been named in the Roosters’ second-row as Angus Crichton is out with a one-game suspension. Freddy Lussick also moves into the starting side as Jake Friend is out with concussion while Adam Keighran (wrist) is also out, so former Leigh half-back Drew Hutchison is the new name on the bench.

Cronulla Sharks v Canberra Raiders (Sunday, 7:15am)

Sebastian Kris

The last game of the second round sees two teams both coming into this one fresh from their own opening round wins. The Sharks overcame rainy conditions to see off the Dragons and despite starting slow, Canberra would eventually force the Tigers into submission. The Raiders’ George Williams continues to shine in the NRL with an influential display last week while both Chad Townsend and Will Kennedy proved key to the Sharks’ efforts.

Team news: Mawene Hiroti takes a starting centre role as Jesse Ramien is out for three games after being suspended for a high tackle committed against the Dragons.

The Raiders will be without captain Jarrod Croker (shoulder) for another week, so Sebastian Kris remains at centre.

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